Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats

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I have a doe whose front knees are hyper-extended and I was hoping someone here could help me figure out why. I've had so many different opinions I'm not sure what to do and I'm ready to throw the kitchen sink at her. She had it mildly before pregnancy but only in her front left leg and I thought maybe she jumped off of something and landed on it funny. It continued to progress during pregnancy with the added weight (she's a first freshener). Her diet was peanut hay, coastal hay and alfalfa pellets during pregnancy and grain during the last week. She has access to Sweetlix Meat Maker, Selenium/E powder, Throvin Kelp and baking soda free choice. She gets 2 grams of COWP every 2 months (heavy sulfur in our area) and I also gave her 5cc of Replamin Gel Plus every 2 weeks. 
Here are the different things I've been told by various other breeders and show judges:


Theory #1) Mineral deficiency (Copper or Selenium). I really don't think that's the case here, but can't afford to have her blood analyzed at the moment.

Theory #2) Calcium deficiency due to imbalance of calcium and phosphorus. Specifically too much calcium and not enough phosphorus which blocked her absorption of calcium and caused this. The suggestion was to switch her to a high phos mineral (1:1 cal/phos ratio) and splint her legs.

Theory #3) It's genetic and should probably be culled from the breeding program. Her sire has one hyper-extended knee but the breeder thought it was an injury. None of his other kids have had this issue.

I've been tirelessly trying to help her heal. I don't have access to a better mineral at the moment, I've tried splinting her legs (to no avail, she takes the splint off) I currently have her on some herbal Mixes from fir Meadows to support joint healing.

At this point I'm open to just about any suggestions.

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Copper deficiency can cause crooked legs, and hyper-extended knees might have some similarities in terms of bone abnormality. The only reliable test for copper is a liver biopsy, which is not practical on a live goat.

How old is she, and how long has this been going on?

I am so sorry you are going though this with your doe, I also experienced this with a lovely doe I had purchased, Pholia Farm HB Alyss, you may have read about her here:

https://pholiafarm.com/the-limping-goat/

It sounds like you have done your homework, but if you haven't already read it, check out the above page on Gianaclis's website, it is a wonderful resource. I had two vets examine Alyss and sadly we chose to euthanize her as she was declining and in substantial pain that did not respond adequately to a variety of treatments including medication, acupuncture and herbs. We did not breed her or retain any of her offspring due to the possibility it may be genetic, though we do have another somewhat closely related doe (a Harriet granddaughter) that shows no signs of weakness or abnormality.

I have heard of other goats who have had similar symptoms, but in a milder form, that have lived happy functional lives. I wish there was an answer to what causes it, I am glad breeders are communicating and sharing stories so that in the future we may find a pattern or explanation.

She is a one year old First Freshener. I bred her earlier than I probably should have (8 months, 45 pounds) because I had the opportunity to breed her to an amazing buck who died soon after their breeding. I noticed her swinging her front left leg right after I got her, but thought it was just a quirk. She didn't start limping on it until a month after she was bred and it just progressed from there. I have been extremely diligent with her copper intake so I really don't think that is the cause here. If it is copper I might throw in the towel on goats for a while. 

Kristen, I actually did read that! It helped that I'm not the only one to experience this but I am still feeling confused about the whole thing. This is the only goat on my property doing this and none of my other goats are showing any signs of deficiency or illness. She doesn't seem to be in a whole lot of pain (she still runs back to the barn at feeding time and has no trouble laying down or getting up. 

I wish I had an answer for you. All I can say is don't give up, it sounds like she is very functional and you are taking good care of her. Keep an eye on her comfort, see if you can have softer ground or bedding for her and less jumping opportunities. I noticed a difference in Alyss's comfort level when she had good cushioned bedding or soft ground vs walking over hard packed ground. If you can, it may be good to have the joint x-rayed as it may give you an insight and also puts you in touch with a vet re her care. Thankfully, our wonderful little goats are very portable and it can make getting x-rays less expensive because we can take them to the vet rather than have the vet come to them. The herb meadowsweet can be helpful for minor pain relief and is gentle on the digestive system. Please feel free to reach out to me if you want to stay in touch, I am not on here that often. I don't want to post my email here in case a spam bot will troll it but you can contact me via our website and I will email you right back! www.NightHeronFarm.com

Breeding at 45 pounds is fine. I usually wait until they're 40 pounds and have never had this happen, so I don't think you can blame yourself for this at all.

Thanks for posting Gianaclis's blog post. That was very interesting. We haven't seen that here, but it doesn't sound like it's that uncommon.

I'm late to the discussion but I just came across this looking for answers myself. I have a doe who has started to swing her left leg and I've noticed that it is starting to hyper-extend. Her sire had the same issue on his right leg but he went to a new farm and it appears that he no longer has the issue which makes me think it's a management problem. I've ruled out selenium via blood test as her's was actually higher than ideal. Copper is still a possibility and I've just recently increased her copper intake in the hopes of it making a difference. I'm intrigued with the calcium: phosphorus issue. I'm going to explore that further. 

How old is she? How old was her sire when he was sold?

Rachel Hoff said:

I'm late to the discussion but I just came across this looking for answers myself. I have a doe who has started to swing her left leg and I've noticed that it is starting to hyper-extend. Her sire had the same issue on his right leg but he went to a new farm and it appears that he no longer has the issue which makes me think it's a management problem. I've ruled out selenium via blood test as her's was actually higher than ideal. Copper is still a possibility and I've just recently increased her copper intake in the hopes of it making a difference. I'm intrigued with the calcium: phosphorus issue. I'm going to explore that further. 

She's 2 1/2 years old. Her sire was the same age when he started to develop it and then was sold about 6 months later. However, I chatted a bit with his new owner and she said he's got nice straight front legs and there is no sign of limping now. 

Crooked legs are one of the few symptoms that I've seen listed in books for copper deficiency. They never mention the symptoms of mild deficiency. I also wonder if the buck could have had an injury that simply healed?

Looking at her you wouldn't think she was deficient in copper at all. Long, shiny, soft fur....

The buck's owner at the time of the leg issue thought possibly an injury too but when he was appraised we learned of the issue because the appraiser was seeing it often. That buck apparently had some 1/2 siblings with the same issue. Then, now to see his daughter with it makes me think there's a genetic component to it - like that line has a more difficult time absorbing certain minerals/vitamins.  

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